Computational Neuro-genetic Modelling for Diagnosis and Prognosis in Mental Health

KEDRI has secured more than $2.1m to develop new data science technology for mental health diagnosis via the Catalyst: Strategic – New Zealand-Singapore Data Science Research Programme, supported by the New Zealand Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment and Singapore Data Science Consortium.

Aotearoa New Zealand has one of the highest prevalence rates of depression worldwide. It accounts for half of the annual suicides and attempted suicides, particularly among 13-25 years old. There is a need to develop new data science methods for accurate diagnosis/prognosis of mental illness and suggest optimal interventions.

The research focuses on developing a new computational neuro-genetic modelling based on machine-learning/AI methods for diagnosis of mental health issues, led by AUT's School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences. This study boasts an unprecedented level of data varieties, including cutting edge genomics, proteomics and metabonomic technologies.

This project is jointly coordinated via AUT's KEDRI and our Singapore research partner from the School of Biological Sciences, Nanyang Technological University .

Main outcomes

  • Development of new machine-learning/AI methods for multimodal data modelling.
  • Better clinical intervention via early and accurate diagnosis of mental health issues in at-risk youth.
  • Developing personalized modelling for a better understanding of individual factors that trigger mental illnesses.

In this project, the initial computational modelling will begin on six years' worth of data collected in Singapore, of 600 young people, some of them manifesting health disorders. The data follows for two years and measures a large number of variables, including cognitive, biomedical, psychological, behavioural, genomic and proteomic. Using AUT's patented NeuCube and personalised modelling methods as a starting point, Professor Nikola Kasabov says that at the end of the research period, they hope to have a pan-omics AI platform that can take a various and large amount of data from young people over time to indicate early who is at risk of developing a mental health problem, such as depression and other disorders, which is an acute problem in Singapore affecting about 18% of young people due to fast pace of life, and can be life-limiting, debilitating and even life-threatening, costing also a lot to the society.

"Mental illness, depression and depression-linked suicide are huge problems in both Aotearoa New Zealand and Singapore. Late diagnosis is the thing we can avoid with intelligent predictive computational models. The hospital and the cemetery are full of people who could have been helped earlier. We are hoping this project results in a platform that can help diagnose those at risk early and recommend personalised treatment and prevention plans," concludes Professor Kasabov.

The project will be led by Dr Maryam Doborjeh. Professor Nikola Kasabov, who was her PhD supervisor, is the science leader. Professor Kasabov says having young researchers in leading roles helps build a new generation of researchers who will lead the field of data science in the future.

It will also involve Professor Edmund Lai from AUT's School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences, Dr Zohreh Doborjeh (University of Auckland), Dr Margaret Hinepo Williams (Public and Māori Health Research Lead at AUT), and Professor Alex Sumich (Nottingham Trent University) as a consultant.

Our Singapore partner has also secured matched funding supported by the Singapore Data Science Consortium, led by Dr Wilson Wen Bin Goh, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and co-investigators Dr Jimmy Lee,  Institute of Mental Health (IMH) Singapore and Professor Limsoon Wong, National University of Singapore (NUS).

Read more about the Catalyst funds

From left to right: Dr Margaret Williams, Prof Edmund Lai, Dr Zohreh Doborjeh, Prof Nikola Kasabov, Dr Maryam Doborjeh

Project team

  • Professor Nikola Kasabov (Science Leader), AUT
  • Dr Maryam Doborjeh (Principal Investigator), AUT
  • Dr Wilson Goh (Principal Investigator), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Current research

Learn more about the wide range of projects researchers at the AUT Knowledge Engineering and Discovery Research Institute are involved in.

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